I find deep comfort in cooking basic staples. There are many jars of beans in my pantry, jars that I decided to move north with me, which is funny considering how much I let go of, in the spirit of Konmari. Beans are a currency, in a sense, for perhaps exactly this moment: they are an investment in a future when work is slow, protein is needed, and it is cold as heck outside. Their double use is comforting: with the cooking of a pot of beans, you get both a broth for future soups, and a hearty portion of legumes to toss into any number of recipes, from a salad to soups to cassoulet. Later this week, I’ll share a soup for these beans.
The only thing they ask of you is a little patience: they need at least 6 hours to soak before cooking. So get them in some water tonight, for a soup this week. Just the kind of slow, nourishing food that we need in this electric season.
A SIMPLE POT OF BEANS
1 cup beans of choice (these are snowcap; chickpeas are my favorite.)
Alliums: 1/2 onion, 4-5 cloves garlic; go for what needs to be used: you could add the white ends of green onions, or shallots, or leeks. Any kind of allium will add a lot of flavor.
Aromatics: I always like to add fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, or rosemary, if I have them. Bay leaves, dried chiles, chile flakes, coarsely chopped carrots and/or celery.
All of these ingredients are essential to a good broth, and will add miles of flavor to the final bean.
Add the beans to a medium bowl. Cover with water and let soak for at least six hours, but ideally overnight.
Rinse and drain. Add to a large pot, add all of your favorite aromatics, cover with at least two inches of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and slowly simmer until the beans are tender, about 1-2 hours. Let the beans cool in their cooking liquid. Strain the beans, and reserve their cooking liquid for that soup that I’m going to share later this week.